Semester 1 Results and Reflection

This week I received my semester 1 results along with written feedback on what I did well and what I can improve on in the future. My results were extremely positive, I passed the semester and was praised on my work. This came as a surprise to me as before the assessments we had not received any mock grades and we weren’t show any work from previous years with their accompanying grade, therefore I had no idea what to expect in terms of how harsh the marking would be.

There were two main areas highlighted as needing improvement in the future, luckily however they are both easy things for me to do. The first improvement is to include more day-to-day examples of work in my archives, for example collecting typography from shops I walk past for my typography archive. Furthermore in my archives I should begin to include aspects of my own personal interests regarding the topic of that archive.

The second improvement is to do with my craftsmanship. The presentation of my semester 1 work was regarded as good but the crafting could have been tidier. This was a problem I noticed just before the deadline for semester 1, I believe this was because for some projects I mounted my final outcomes early in the year when my craftsmanship skills were not as good as they could have been, therefore in the lead up to semester 1 I didn’t not remount this work and they remained rougher than work that I mounted later on in the year. For semester 2 however I intend to get all of my work ready for presentation at the end of the year, by mounting all of the work at once I will ensure that all of the work is consistent in terms of skill and materials.

Esther Cox

Esther Cox is an illustrator/graphic designer who works in a variety of practices, however mainly creates prints for fashion. She is professionally trained in fashion and textiles, but has worked in health and social care, textile restoration and a large range of other professions. Currently she sales a lot of prints for fashion, primarily menswear and kidswear, as well as stationery and homeware. Some of her recent clients include Marks and Spencers, Paperchase, Transport for London, Desktop magazine and Undo magazine. Due to her clients mainly being commercial most of her work is designed for spring/summer and autumn/winter briefs, and large companies will normally request the same colours and themes for each season each year, therefore a challenge with her work that she highlighted was that each season she has to find new and creative way of reinventing these themes. Her style is abstract, textural and focuses on mark making, and her creative process includes using painting, print and collage to generate visual elements.

I really enjoy the abstract nature of her work and her use of colour. Her work reminds me of the experimental work I used to create during my foundation, where I would cut up unsuccessful prints and paintings and play with collaging the elements together. This is an approach that I haven’t used since leaving my foundation, however after the talk given to us by Esther Cox I am eager to revisit it. The talk also encourage me to see that approach as a way of making final outcomes, whereas before I only viewed collaging prints and mark making together as simply for fun.

Vertical Project: Surrealist Collage

Below are three more influential collage artists that I found whilst collecting research for my vertical project on memory. The artists all have a surrealist element to their work and many are directly influenced by the work of the surrealist movement. I have analyses these artists and used their work as inspired for my own collage work, however mine will be applied to an animation instead of simply a print.

Andrew McGranaham

“I enjoy creating ‘scenes’ that could only exist in another time or dimension but still somehow seem familiar. I’m always challenging myself to do something new and unique. The improvisational and often freeform nature of physical collage is something I’ll never get tired of.”

San Diego-based collage artist and graphic designer Andrew McGranaham creates surreal, psychedelic collages inspired by ancient history, science fictions and surrealism. His imagery comes from vintage magazines and books, such as OMNI, LIFE Nature library and National Geographic. His work is far more graphic than that of the other two artists, as seen from the block colours and linear and geometric shapes.

Andrew McGranahan

Andrew McGranahan

Andrew McGranahan

Eugenia Loli

Influence by pop art, dada, and traditional surrealism Eugenia Loli uses photography from scanned vintage magazines and science publications to construct her collaged visual narratives. Her work is most closely related to the aesthetic I aim to achieve in my animation, she takes collaged elements and juxtaposes them into vastly different environments to their initial context, creating surreal and odd scenes.

Eugenia Loli

Eugenia Loli

Eugenia Loli

Sarah Einsenlohr 

The Montana based artist uses collage to create fictional environments from places of existence, this is to highlight the way in which humans have transformed the earth. She transplants the influence of humanity onto collaged images of untouched landscapes from vintage magazines. Her work is cleverly done as she seamlessly blends together collaged elements to create humorous surreal scenes. This level of sophistication when combining collaged elements together is extremely difficult and something I strive to achieve with my own work.

Sarah Eisenlohr

Vertical Project: Alice in Wonderland Dinner Party

We’re All Quite Mad Here! by Elena

Mad Hatters Tea Party by Unknown

Alice in Wonderland (2010) Film Directed by Tim Burton

Hollywood Regency Interior Design by Lisa Gilmore Design

“Yes, that’s it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it’s always tea time.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

For my collage animation the imagery is inspired by the range of tasks and activities the gnomes at the Gnome Sanctuary in Cornwall were depicted taking part in, these tasks range from normal everyday activities to those which are bizarre and outlandish. One section of the gnome sanctuary had a series of gnomes positioned around a large dining table depicted having dinner. When I think of gnomes fairytales spring to mind, and as my animation is intended to also be in a surrealist style I decided to look towards the tea party from  Alice in Wonderland for inspiration for the dinner imagery.

The imagery above contains a long table or series of small tables, surrounded by chairs of various shapes and size. Upon the table are stacks of teacups, teapots spouting flowers, stacks of books, tophats, ceramic figurines, cakes and floating clocks. This juxtaposition of elements creates a fantastical, playful and surreal setting that I will aim to include in my own collaged designs.

Vertical Project: Surrealist Animation

At the beginning of this project I brainstormed all of the possible topics I could research that relate to my memory of the gnome sanctuary. From gnomes I identified dolls and puppetry, and from that I went on to identify the art movement surrealism. Surrealism fits my concept well as my memory is focusing on the whimsical humorous nature of the gnome sanctuary whilst also trying to convey the weirdness and strangeness of the situation.

Inspired by the introduction to Adobe After Effects that I attended this week I decided that my final format for this project will be an animation, this was also previously suggested during early discussions with the tutors. An animation seems fitting as well for a memory, when we remember past events we don’t tend to see the memory as a still and detailed image but instead we remember key highlights from that event which progress through time. There an animation drawing attention to key visual and auditory highlights, and progressing with time seems appropriate.

To combine the format of animation with the idea of surrealism I began to research surrealist animations, as seen above. Many of the animations use collage which has been photographed to form a stop motion film, this approach is quick and easy to do however I find the outcomes to appear rough and the rough nature takes away from the imagery. The bottom two animations however I think is the most successful, where the collaged elements have been digitally animated. The smooth nature of the animation and the elements placed on a flat background gives an eerie unnatural feelings that relates to my concept.

The imagery I choose to use in my animation will be inspired by my previous research into the garden centre aesthetic, looking at garden centre displays where the objects are juxtaposed into their setting. I will also seek inspired from my own memory of the gnome sanctuary. Whilst at the gnome sanctuary many of the gnomes were sculpted to appear to be taking part in a variety of activities, ranging from everyday activities to bizarre fantastical activities, therefore I will generate imagery based upon this.

Introduction to Book Arts 2

After my first introduction to book arts during semester one I became extremely interested in the practice, which led to me signing up to the optional book arts workshop this semester. This workshop taught two new bookbinding techniques; simple japanese stab sewing and multi-section sewing using French link stitch.

Simple Japanese stab sewing

The first binding technique we tried was simple Japanese stab sewing, which is used for binding single sheets. This techniques involves binding pages and covers that have already been trimmed, together by sewing through holes drilled through the pages and covers.

Simple Japanese stab sewing

When using Japanese Stab Sewing there is a variety of sewing patterns which can be used, or you can create your own patterns. Below are some examples I have found of interesting Japanese stab sewing patterns.

The second binding technique we learnt was multi-section sewing with French link stitch and kettle stitches. Multi-section sewn books consist of small booklets of pages which are sewn together, this allows the book to lie flat when opened unlike Japanese stab sewing. To create our books we sewed together 5 booklets, each made of 4 pieces of A4 paper folded into a booklet to form 16 pages. To sew together the booklets we used French link stitch. Once the booklets had been sewn together, the book was pressed and then the spine was glued whilst the book was weighted down between boards.

Multi-section French link and kettle stitch sewn book with book cloth spine

Multi-section French link and kettle stitch sewn book with book cloth spine

For the covers we had two options, to either create a wrap around soft back cover with a spine scored into the material which was going to be used, or to glue book cloth to the spine and then a piece of card to the front of the book and one to the back to act as covers. For my book I chose to create a book cloth spine and attach two separate covers.

French link stitch and kettle stitches

French link stitch

Example of French link stitch

Vertical Project: Garden Centre Visual Culture

As suggested by the tutors, I visited Brighton Garden Centre to collect primary research on the garden centre aesthetic. What I was specifically looking for those displays often found in garden centres where miniature fake gardens would be constructed outside to display garden furniture and ornaments, but to my disappointment this garden centre did not have any. However, to avoid wasting the trip I did photograph their collection of garden ornaments.

After my visit to the garden centre I went to B&Q in the hope that they would have some constructed gardens on display. They did not, with exception of a few sheds outside, so I photographed some of their constructed kitchens indoors. The constructed kitchens capture the surreal nature of small fake constructed scenes juxtaposed into a different setting, however the content of the imagery is not garden or outdoor based which relates to the concept behind my work.

I find the surreal nature of the constructed kitchens extremely interesting however the photography does not help in my research towards my final outcome. Furthermore as garden centre displays is a very specific topic of research it is proving difficult to collect secondhand research online to contribute towards my project. Below are the best examples I could find of garden centre displays online, the ones I chose embody the surreal atmosphere I am trying to convey, this is through their bright colours, isolated elements and juxtaposition into their environment.

Due to the lack of relevant research collected I am unsure whether to continue with the idea of garden centre aesthetic, and instead explore shadow puppets which I previously identified here as another possible topic of research. Through discussions with the tutors tomorrow I hope to resolve this issue.

Vertical Project: Brighton Museum and Gallery

Some of the research topics I previously identified from my investigation into gnomes was “dolls, puppets, theatre, performance and surrealism” and “ornaments and ceramics.” To research these topics I visited the Brighton Museum and Gallery where they show an exhibition on performers and spectators, and another exhibition on ceramics.

“Public performances happen all over the world. They inspire us to make spectacular things – costumes, masks, puppets, instruments and images. These objects are used with fantastic stories, histories, music or dance to transport us for a time to imaginary worlds.” 

Performers and Spectators Exhibition

When walking around the exhibition I focused on objects that were surrealist in appearance or had an interesting process. I found the visual qualities of the Genie Mask (2nd from the left, top row in the image above) and Lupercalian Priest Mask particularly interesting, the use of distorted scale of the face worn by a performer and the mask with multiple faces on one head both relate to the surrealist aesthetic. I was also very interested in the process behind 19th century Indian “Shadow Puppets” (1st and 2nd form the left, middle row in the image above). Shadows of the puppets would be cast onto a cloth screen, this meant the original puppet was not directly visible and the lighting used could distort the scale and create atmosphere. Modern shadow shows include contemporary music, multimedia and light shows. This process could be a way to create an eerie yet playful feeling using gnome shadow puppets, with a further exploration into music, multimedia and lighting. Furthermore I could explore location, as the initial setting of my memory was a woods I could investigate projecting shadow puppets within a wood environment on the scenery.

The above ceramics, with the exception of the middle image on the bottom row, are part of a collection donated in 1903 by Henry Willet, a founding father of Brighton Museum. His collection of pottery and porcelain illustrates British popular history, conveying political, social and cultural history through the figures and vessels.

The objects themselves have very little information to accompany them, other than a title and a brief description of the materials and imagery used. Therefore from the vast collection I picked out a small selection of pieces that were surreal in appearance, I also discovered a Grayson Perry pot. Difficult Background, 2001, contains illustrations of children playing in 1950s clothing, however on closer inspection reveals burning buildings and figures screaming and running naked from others who are armed. There is also a girl who is presenting an apple to a boy over a signpost labelled ‘lost innocence’. This pot can be viewed as making a statement on the atrocities of conflict.

Difficult Background by Grayson Perry, 2001

Although the pot is neither surreal of directly relating to my line of study, the concept of creating seemingly positive imagery with a darker meaning is very interesting. The idea of the gnome sanctuary was to be whimsical and playful, however the number of gnomes in a woodland setting, plus the eerie connotations associated with gnomes, means that they can also have a creepy atmosphere. This idea of juxtaposition of positive and negative could be something I include within my final outcome.

Vertical Project: Memories

13/02/2017 – 24/02/2017

Brief: Select an important, meaningful and vivid memory and create an exhaustive list about everything you can remember and everything that is connected to that event. Research all the areas of the investigation, choosing interesting and relevant material. The final outcome should evoke a particular time, place and state of mind, and can be print, video, installation or performance.

A memory I choose from my past was from 2015 when I went on holiday with 20 of my friends to celebrate the end of sixth form. We rented out an entire hostel between us in Bude, Cornwall. Whilst there we visited The Gnome Reserve, the reserve consisted of woods filled with bought and donate gnomes. This memory is memorable due to the playful yet eerie nature of the trip. As you walked through the woods you would be surrounded by hundreds of gnomes, each varying in size, shape and design, and all of them taking part in a different activity.

From the topic of gnomes I identified the following possible areas to research:

  • Dolls, puppets, theatre, performance and surrealism
  • Fairytales, illustration and calligraphy
  • Ornaments and ceramics
  • Garden, sanctuary and wildlife

After a discussion with the tutors they also suggested other lines of investigation. Relating to my idea of surrealism they recommended looking at the visual culture of garden centres, specifically the constructed fake garden scenes there that are used to display outdoor furniture, these sort of constructed scenes can also be seen in B&Q and other DIY and furnishing stores. Furthermore for the final outcome of my project they recommended considering creating a graphic novel or creating a storyboard for an animation, (they suggested a storyboard instead of creating a full animation as the project is only 2 weeks long and creating a full animation in that time frame would be extremely difficult.)

Introduction to Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects

Early in the year I attended an introduction to motion workshop where we editing footage using Adobe Premiere Pro. Today I attended a short introduction to Adobe Premier Pro workshop which focused more on how to use that specific software package, where as the introduction to motion workshop focused more on video editing. The workshop also introduced how to use the software Adobe After Effects.

Premiere Pro is for video editing and you can use it to compose original work, After Effects on the other hand is for creating animations and can be used to create original artwork. Both software programmes are project based, therefore all assets must be saved in the same folder to maintain the links.

We began the introduction with looking at Adobe Premiere Pro. We looked at how to get our photographs safely off the camera, how to correctly format our projects and how to import our photographs into the software. The we began to look at the uses of some of the keys terms, something we had not previously covered in the introduction to motion workshop. The tools we looked at was the ripple edit, rolling edit, slip and slide tools, all designed to manipulate how footage, images and audio are positioned on the timeline. Finally we looked at how to render our final outcome in Premiere Pro. We looked at how to test render a small selection of footage from the film, which is useful to when working on large projects, as well as how to fully render your film with the correct formatting.

Once we had covered Adobe Premiere Pro we moved onto Adobe After Effects, a software that was completely knew to me and one that i was eager to learn. Throughout the course so far I have worked on many projects that I would have liked to have created animations for, however I lacked the skills and found learning the software by myself to be a very steep learning curve, therefore this workshop was perfect for my interests.

We started by looking at how to import assets into the software, still single images and a sequence of images, and how to place them within the workspace. Then we began to look at how to manipulate those assets by applying position, scale and opacity effects. Finally we looked at applying effects that changed the visual qualities of the imported assets, such as linear colour key and compound arithmetic. Finally, like with Premiere Pro, we covered how to render our final animations and make sure that they are correctly formatted.

Overall I found the induction extremely useful as it was handy to recap on how to use Premiere Pro and learn more about the tools, but what I really found useful was learning about After Effects. After Effects is a particularly difficult piece of software to self teach due to the fact that it is so fast and is used for a variety of purpose and formats, therefore a concise induction into the software aimed at beginners has helped me to understand roughly how it works, and hopefully I can now continue to self teach myself the software a lot easier.